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Mitch Barns Shares Global Trends At Milken Institute’s 2015 Global Conference

Mitch Barns, Justin Leong, Head of Strategic Investments and Corporate Affairs, Genting and Al Jazeera America Host Ali Velshi

Earlier this week, our CEO, Mitch Barns, participated on a panel entitled “Global Consumers: Riding the Wave of the World’s Growing Middle Class” at the Milken Institute in Los Angeles.  With him on the panel were Vimal Shah, CEO of Bidco, a consumer goods company operating in 16 countries in Africa; Mark Clouse, Chief Growth Officer of Mondelez International, the candy, snacking and beverage giant; and Justin Leong, Head of Strategic Investments and Corporate Affairs at the Genting Group, a diversified Malaysian giant with operations in casinos, resorts, property, power, and cruises, among other businesses.

The conversation was hosted by Ali Velshi of Al Jazeera America and ranged widely. Among other topics, the panel discussed the disparity between the pressure on the middle class in the developed world and the speedy growth of the middle class in developing countries; the successes of many “local giants” in developing countries and why multinational companies often struggle on the local players’ home ground; the opportunity to sell “experiences” to the emerging middle class; the effects of urbanization in Asia and Africa; and the importance of the mobile phone and e-commerce in countries where banking and modern trade are less developed.

Mitch spoke about the sheer scale of the emerging middle class in the developing world, noting that close to half of China’s population of more than 1.3 billion people will be in the middle class in the next 10 years. He also pointed out that there is opportunity to be seized in the developed world, particularly in the U.S., which will grow where most developed countries will not, and that this growth will be concentrated in the country’s multicultural segments.

Mitch also discussed the way local companies in emerging markets have been outperforming the global companies by doing a better job of tailoring products to local tastes, innovating more quickly, and being more agile in general—and that one of the things multinational companies can do in response is to staff developing country operations with local leaders, as Nielsen has done in many countries.

Watch video of the panel here to hear more about these topics as well as how e-commerce is changing business in China, how multinational firms can leapfrog the local giants, and other topics.